“Snowflake Generation” is a term used to characterize millennials and Generation Z as being more prone to taking offense, having less psychological resilience than previous generations, and being too emotionally vulnerable to cope with views that challenge their own. Used this way, “snowflake” came into vogue within the last four or five years and was named by Collins Dictionary (which calls itself the home of living English) one of 2016’s words of the year. I’m including it in this issue of POGO because I’ve recently heard the word applied to difficult daughters-in-law, those whose egos are so fragile they view anyone whom their children love—other than them—as a threat.
The way terms evolve at lightning speed these days, it’s not surprising that “snowflake” has also become a politically charged epithet here and in the U.K. At first it was used by the political Right to disparage liberals, whom they accused of being too easily offended, too in need of "safe spaces, too fragile.” Then the Left turned it around and called President Trump a snowflake, too. The term even entered the workplace when a marketing company created a "snowflake test" to weed out overly sensitive job applicants.
You might also hear the variation, “precious little snowflake.” This is a swipe at parents who feel each of their offspring is unique and therefore deserving of special treatment. Finally, there is “Special Snowflake Syndrome” in which young adults display narcissistic traits to the max. On the Net a professor took just such a student to task: “When I said, ‘I don't see how this problem of your own creation justified interrupting everyone else's exam,’ it was like I was speaking an entirely foreign language. Other people didn't matter, and he wanted attention right then. Five minutes be damned. Opening the door and coming into the room quietly be damned, as well. The thing is, it wasn't even that big of an emergency, and he knew it, since the first thing out of his mouth was not an apology, but a demand for a new time to sit the exam.”
The professor’s post set off a storm of responses. As another professor wrote, “Children start learning - excuse me, children are supposed to start learning - that the universe doesn't revolve around them when their parents and teachers say things like: "No, you have to wait your turn," “Those toys aren’t just for you; you have to share them with your playmates,” and "Sshhhh - we have to be quiet because other people are trying to watch the movie, too."
Even if you don’t have a DDIL who’s a snowflake, now at least you know the word can connote something other than a feathery ice crystal.


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